January 23, 2014

Life’s A Beach: At Hotel Escondido by Federico Rivera Río

Grupo Habita, known for design-driven boutique hotels across Mexico, plus a single U.S. outpost, in New York, has opened a property on the Pacific south of Acapulco, in Puerto Escondido. Never mind that escondido means hidden. This laid-back enclave in the town of San Pedro Mixtepec is no secret on the international surfing circuit. With 20-foot waves rivaling those in Hawaii and Australia, the coast near Puerto Escondido is known as the Mexican Pipeline. Hence the pop of surfer style that mixes with crisp modernism and the rustic vernacular at Hotel Escondido.

That’s the work not of an internationally recognized name—other Grupo Habita properties have involved TEN Arquitectos and India Mahdavi, to cite two—but of a small firm, Federico Rivera Río Arquitectura. Having hitherto built mostly beach  houses, particularly indigenous thatch-roofed palapas, Federico Rivera Río describes his concept for the hotel as “combining ancestral forms and customs with geometric rigor. Modern art has always been nourished by primitive art. Architecture is no different.” 

He embraced palm fronds, Central American hardwood, and local stone for their low ecological impact. “In a tropical climate, they’re unbeatable,” he says. Public amenities center on a double-height palapa, its typical woven palm thatch sheltering reception and a restaurant—where mid-century furniture elevates the architecture’s rusticity, and the occasional surfboard completes the upscale but retro beach-shack vibe. Also palapas, the 16 guest bungalows all offer verandas overlooking private plunge pools. 

Of course, no tropical boutique hotel would be complete without one truly knockout pool. Here, it’s 165 feet long, with shaded hammocks on one side and the beach on the other. Guests feel like they’re swimming in the Pacific, minus the chill and the massive surf.

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